Monthly Archives: July 2016

Soul Interactions

She’s so beautiful.

Not physically. I mean, physically, she’s pretty, but it’s more like her insides are shining out of her, and I can see them.

“You can have so many soul mates,” my friend once said. “It’s really just that they all came out of the same soul circle. So when you’re born, you came from a group of souls, and you can find them out in the world. And that’s why we’re soul mates.”

I wonder if this girl is one of my soul mates.

She finds me in what has now turned into a party. I’m talking to a guy, and she comes in just as he’s asking me “what I am”. It’s always so weird interacting with people in my home town, out of the social justice, aware bubble, but I find these interactions easier than I used to.

“But really,” he’s saying. “Are you light skinned?”
“Do you see me?” I ask him. “What kind of question is that?” I’m being sarcastic, making fun of him. He knows it, she knows it, he flips me off exasperatedly, and I answer.
“My mom is a white lady from Ohio,” I say, “And my dad is a black man from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I’m Congolese-American.”

I can tell by their blank yet friendly expressions that they’ve never heard of Congo.

“Well, whatever you are, you’re beautiful,” she tells me. “Like so so beautiful,” and this is nice to hear, because I can look in the mirror and tell myself I have beauty until I’m convinced of it abstractly, but it means something coming from a girl who is a stranger, out of nowhere in a way I can instantly believe.

“Do you know what I am?”
“Are you mixed?” She nods. “Hispanic and…white?” She laughs.
“I’m Cuban and Lebanese!”
“Oh wow, how did that come about?”
“…Sex.” We laugh.
“No, what I meant is, how did your parents meet?” Her eyes widen and she smiles like she has a secret, then leans in and whispers in my ear, “In a mental hospital.” She sits back on her heels and looks at me.
“That’s amazing,” I say. “Like actually really hopeful. How are they doing now?”
“Well, my dad has been dead since I was really young, but my mom is pretty good,” she says.
Our souls reach out and hug, and she clasps my hands, and we continue talking until she has to go check to make sure her friends haven’t left her here. “They tend to forget me.” It’s my friend’s house. She’s friends with the guy, who invited her other friend, who invited her and a lot of Random people.

I’m sitting alone for a minute, and then a guy from high school comes over. I haven’t seen him since New Year’s Eve, but really a week before that when a bunch of us were in his house eating latkes.

“How have you been?” he asks me, “Since the last time we spoke?”I think back. “Comparatively better,” I say. “The last time I saw you, life was not very great, was it?”
“Last time I saw you, your life was terrible,” he answers.
“Yeah, it was!” I laugh. It’s hilarious, because it’s true, but also because I would never think to call my life terrible. I mean, privilege. I think back. “Well -“

“What happened to you?” Across the room, the guy has been listening to our conversation. “Did you have a pregnancy scare or something?” He’s joking.
“Actually, I did,” I tell him. Because of my rapist, I think in my head.
“Yeah, so did I!” He’s still joking, though. “Hard life!”
“…Should we maybe not have this conversation here?” My friend wants to know.
“No, I really don’t care. If anyone listens in, they’ll just be upset by what they hear,” I say, then give him bullets. “So basically, I finally yelled at my parents about how they handled my rape. We’ve been repairing our relationship. I dated a guy for a bit, or I guess I had been when I saw you last, but he was waayyy more into me than I was into him, so eventually I broke up with him. Or tried to, but he held on for about a month. And then the day after he finally let go, this guy with whom I’ve had an on-again, off-again thing with told me he loved me. And I loved him back, and we were happy for a minute, but it turned really sour and sad and has gone on until last week. Which is sort of extremely heart breaking, but I can’t do anything about it. And also, I went to South Africa and got raped again.” I burst into laughter. He is, what someone else comments from across the room, horrified.

“Are you joking?”
“No! Isn’t that ridiculous? What freaking luck!” I laugh and laugh and laugh while he rocks back and stares at me, not knowing what to say, and that makes me laugh more. And then we’re interrupted by an arguing couple. The guy tears out of the house, and I hug the girl as she sobs, and I am thankful that I have not at least been like this. In a house of strangers watching my relationship deteriorate.

She’s back. She finds me again, and takes my hand in hers, and we talk. At one point, she tells me,
“You are just amazing. I feel so good talking to you. You know, you get people. You would be a really good psychologist, or like a therapist,” and that’s cool. She invites me to play a drinking game, but I’m staying away from being drunk for a while, so I leave her, and the guy from high school comes back.

“You know, I worry about you sometimes,” he tells me, which is surprising, given that we rarely see each other. “Ever since that party four years ago, when you were so drunk.”

There was only one time I got drunk four years ago.

“Was it the summer?” He nods. “With Derrick?” Nods. “At Dominique’s house? You were there?” Nodding nodding nodding. “Oh, shit,” I say. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I ruined that party.”
“No you didn’t,” he says. “You mostly just talked to me. You told me you weren’t going to live to 19.”
“Oh yeah,” I say. I can’t believe myself how nonchalant I am about this. “I believed it, too. I’m sorry I said that. But clearly I did live. And now I’m still here, and I guess I will be.” I want to tell him that I’ve let Edward go. But then I think about how I spent my entire commute home from work seriously considering suicide, and decide not to say anything. I’m not drunk. And laughing about my troubles with someone who takes them seriously actually makes me feel better.
“I’m here,” I repeat.

And then, the couple is back, and things have escalated. Fists fly, neighbors come outside. I watch my friend, the homeowner, dodge a punch and then begin to choke a girl out. I go into the kitchen, and find my girl barely conscious. She’s in a chair, head tipped back, hair covering parts of her face. Her friend is trying to slap her awake, to no avail. She’s drooling. I take a napkin and dab at her mouth, and she tries to move her hand, slowly, to help. But she just sinks further from consciousness. Her soul is crying.

“How did this happen?” I ask her useless friend, the one who brought all the chaos.
“She had half a bar of Xanax. And then she’s been drinking. And she had a huge Red Bull.” A stimulant, depressant, and DEPRESSANT.
“Where are her friends?” Who allowed this to happen? Why was no one looking out?
“I’m her friend,” the girl says, defensively.
“Sure you are,” I say.

I wonder if this is what she meant earlier when she talked about her friends leaving her. Everyone is crowding into the kitchen now, piled around her. They argue about whether to move her, to call 911, to take her to the emergency room, or just to dump her somewhere to sleep it off. One guy keeps shouting that he knows about “Sports medicine. I majored in it!” The couple is still outside, arguing.

“Let’s just go back to our frat,” Sports Medicine says.
“You have a frat house?” I whip around. They nod. “Why would you bring all of this here? Into a stranger’s home? Why didn’t you just go to your frat?”
“It’s the summer,” they respond. I am disgusted.

I pull aside the guy from before. The one who invited the girl who invited everyone else. “I hope you understand this is your responsibility.”
“What!” He’s shocked. “You’re blaming me!”
“No,” I say. “You aren’t entirely to blame for what happened. But you invited strangers into someone else’s home. You are responsible for what the strangers do to the home. And look what they’ve done.” He takes that in.

“That girl,” we look at her. “She’s depressed, isn’t she?”
“Have you seen the cuts in her arm?” he asks in response.
“No, I never looked at her arms.”
“Well, they’re serious. I hadn’t seen before today. Yeah, she’s not okay.”

“She’s going to die,” I tell him “Unless she gets better friends. She needs someone to look out for her. To care about her. You need to do better.”

Eventually, she wakes up a little, and they take her to her boyfriend’s house.

There have been so many times that I’ve wanted access to prescription medication, to knock myself out so I wouldn’t have to deal with anything. Nightly panic attacks are real. Anxiety kills, too slowly. But I’ve always stayed away, and this is why. I’ve had my time to be a party foul. I’m at the wrong age to go off the rails now.

There are too many beautiful girls who bring light into people’s lives while privately (for the most part) being miserable. Too many girls who smile and laugh at things that really make them want to cry, who drop heavy truths while projecting weightlessness. It’s tiring. I don’t want this to be the reason we’re soul mates.

If I ever see that girl again, I expect it will be a long time from now. But our souls have touched, and mine will be sending hers as much support and love and strength as it can, from now until then.

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A Preservation

Some kisses are magic.

Is it the kiss, or the setting? Or is the kiss the culmination?

Bam, bam, bam-bam bee-dum, bam, bam

“F*ck him,” she’s told me. “F*ck XXXXX for not seeing what he had in front of him. I wish I could date you, but I can’t date all my friends.”

A scrub is a guy who thinks he’s fly, and is also known as a buster

And just like that, I’m not sad. Well, I am. But when I open my mouth to respond, I realize that I don’t care about talking about what’s happened. I squeeze my eyes to cry, because this would be the perfect moment to, but nothing comes out.

I’m too happy.

I look around at people I love, only people I love, gathered together.

“You know what I’m thankful for?” one of us says, “Great friends.”

I think about that, it pulls me down into clouds. Great friends, great friends.

I get it. I look at my friends, and I feel our connections to each other. In this moment, our vibes are tangible. They weave together above our heads, forming a canopy that drapes over our bodies and wraps us in warmth.

I understand that this is something I’ve been missing. That, had a conversation gone differently, I probably would not have been here right now. And I so need to be here. I’ve spent the summer being drained, but this moment makes me feel full. I know that it will pass, and in a few days I will feel empty again. So I drink in as much of the moment as possible, let it fill every space in my body and mind, and as much of my soul as I can manage.

“I hate him so f*cking much,” she’s told me, “For what he did to you. I wish I could kill him, because he’s made you so sad. But then, that would make you sad, too.”

Yes, it would. I don’t hate him. I did, for about twenty minutes. I hated him for making me love him. I replayed our most recent moments in my mind, and hated him for giving me snatches of happiness, teases of how well we could fit together. I hated him for telling me he loved me when he wasn’t ready. What height of carelessness

But then, there was care in his letting me go. I can recognize that.


It’s personal, myself and I
We’ve got some figuring out to do

If my love for him had been like a candle, there would be hot wax all over my hand at this point, and the wick would nearly be gone. Painful. Almost as painful as putting it out.
After a bit, pains begin to overlap with one another, so you’re not sure what’s really troubling you anymore.


Loving you was nice,
But it’s a new day, a new season
I’ve been sad inside

You know what I’m thankful for? Great friends.

Friends who will meet you for lunch after not seeing each other in a long time. Who, over frozen raspberry margaritas will get you to tell the truth you’ve been trying to avoid: You didn’t downgrade anything to an assault. You got raped in South Africa. Who will listen to you tell, for the first time, the true and full story of what happened just two weeks ago, and will laugh with you about the teeny tiny size of your rapist’s penis (which actually, it turned out, made things easier for him). Who will watch your eyes tear up, then clear up, and make you laugh again by reminding you of that time in fifth grade that they got you to sit in their broken chair and the desk fell over on you.

Friends who will come over from Boston, having planned their New York visit to match when they know for a fact you’ll be in the country. Who will meet you in Grand Central and walk with you to Bryant Park, who will find a deck of cards and reteach you how to play Spit. Who will understand that something may be wrong, but will do such a thoroughly good job of distracting you by just being themselves. Who will remind you that you can love friends, even if you rarely see them.

I’ve been sad inside,
And he could see it, picked up your pieces,
We could just alight

Friends who will gather to say goodbye to someone, but do it in the most beautiful, celebratory way possible. Who will dance on two levels of a deck, with young children and older relatives. Who will take pictures together, and lean over railings, reaching their hands down to you, as you raise yourself up on your toes so that your faces can be as close as possible.

“We’re all soul mates,” she says, and I believe her. Our friendships are deep.

I sit among my friends, and blow out of the candle. I understand that it can’t be burning right now. I need to put it away. Not quite let it go. The day I lose hope for the candle, hope for us, is the day I have completely changed into another person. So I won’t get rid of it. I’ll just put it somewhere else, and try not to think about it too much, and maybe one day, when he’s ready, he will light what’s left of it, and help me build it back up again.

“I love you so much,” Gari tells me, hugging me on one side and Crystal on the other. “I love you guys.” And we hug her back, and I feel our friendship glowing, pulsing, so I close my eyes to let it better wash over me. And I feel her kiss me on my forehead, over my right brow. I’ve missed this. Feeling loved. Feeling safe. Feeling happy. We are a star.

Home is wherever I’m with you

This night is the most magical moment I have yet had the privilege to feel.

Shame on You

The Man is in the doorway. Hunched over, watching me.

Watching, or looking?
Look – regarderOn regarde la télévision. Am I a show to Him? Or a subject, animal, to be observed? I cannot tell if He is more detached or active in what He does, but the fact that He’s present at all, for the first time in a year, is more concerning than how strong His presence actually is.

The look on His face. It isn’t a smile or a sneer, because sneers lack delight and smiles are too kind. It isn’t a smirk either. Maybe it’s this look to which people refer when they talk about twisted smiles. As if He turned up the corners of His mouth, took the half loop this created and used His eyes to braid into it hate and delight and fascination and longing and anger and just a dash of care, with an overwhelming amount of sadism.

I see Him without looking, without opening my eyes or lifting my head. I couldn’t do either of those things, anyway. I’m terrified of making eye contact with Him. It’s never happened, but I know that this would be the morning for it. Pure contact, and what would happen after that? I’m afraid to find out. All these years, and The Man still has me petrified.

I don’t want to look at Him, but I know that I need to acknowledge Him. The longer He stares, and the longer I stay frozen like this in bed, the worse off I’ll be. There’s a reason he’s here now. I’m not in good shape. When I came to South Africa, I knew that things wouldn’t get better. You can’t run from your problems, or your feelings, I understand. Still, I hadn’t expected things to get worse, either. And they had. Isolation in the cold, punctuated by visits from monsters will wear a person down. Nightly panic attacks followed by insomnia will just about wreck you. I’m low. So low, I guess, that The Man has decided to reappear.

So He’s come into the doorway, and He’s watching me. And I am low, and I am terrified, and I am tired. So very tired. I’ve lost a lot of sleep, a lot of happiness, and a lot of hope. I’m an easy target. Except.

Except that I don’t want to be a target. I don’t want to be a victim. I’ve spent a year digging in my heels and fighting monsters and I’m starting to get fed up with this continuous process that is ever-draining. I want it to end, I sort of want to give up, but I don’t want Him to end me.

Shame on you.

It’s my strongest thought. From amidst the why me‘s and the I’m tired‘s, the please leave me alone‘s and the how dare they‘s emerges a single Shame.

The Man’s face blanches, and His shoulder jumps. I can see it without looking, feel His energy skip without moving. I wonder if anyone has ever chastised him in this way before. I’m sure people have cursed Him, screamed, yelled, put His awfulness before Him in indictment. I’ve done it myself. But all of this has always been done because of Him, in reaction to Him. I don’t know if anything has ever been done to him or at him. Until now.

Shame on you! I think again, more forcefully. He stumbles back a step. It’s involuntary, and he is surprised, so He straightens His spine to stand, giving up hunching in the doorway. At full height, He towers. Or he would, if I wasn’t so busy thinking at him. Shame, shame, shame for all the monsters He’s guided who have stuck me in bed, for all the other feelings He’s caused that press down on my body, and all the thoughts He’s cultured that cloud my head. He’s trying to work them up now, and inside my mind I feel like I might suffocate from the cloudiness being created, but through it all I lock onto the SHAME. And I scream it, blare it out at him until the walls of my mind are trembling and the last bits of my energy are just spent from the effort, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it, because the Man is leaving, running away from me, finally. I know he’ll be back, and he’ll probably be harder when he is. But for the moment, I have made myself safe. And this mental activity, after a full night of tossing around restlessly, has left me wiped enough to pass out.

I wake to my cousin coming home from work, incredulously asking me how I could have slept all day.

Alien Encounters

I’m at Charles de Gaulle airport, waiting for my connecting flight and struggling to connect to the “WiFi gratuit”. Finally, deciding that today needs to be bullshit-free, I give up and glance around, and for the briefest half a second make eye contact with a white lady with Senegalese twists. She obviously just had them done, because her edges are pullllling the skin on her face. If they were any thicker, she’d look like Alien. Her eyes light up when she sees me, and there’s a sharp intake of breath like she’s about to say something. Not today, not today, I’m thinking. Today is my bullshit-free day. Quickly, slickly, I keep my eyes dulled and continue my head turn, not showing that I’ve registered her, and ending with my eyes a good 90 degrees away.
But this lady. This lady takes her cart of stacked high with suitcases, and wheels it directly into my line of vision. She’s headed toward me. I’ve already Committed to looking in this direction, so I have no choice but to return eye contact as she gets closer…

“Your hair is even cooler than MINE!” she says, beaming proudly.

I’m just over here like Damn. Not even 4am and there’s already some bullshit. Why does she think that her hair is some standard of cool for mine to compare against? My hair is the color of Space Dust. Her hair is the color of Brown. And yet her regular twists, that so many black women wear, are super duper extra cool. On Her. The black girl sitting next to me, I kid you not, has Senegalese twists. Why doesn’t Alien say my hair is cooler than the girl’s, as opposed to her own?
Because then it wouldn’t be about her? Because black culture only becomes cool when appropriated by whiteness? Because we both (probably) know that I wasn’t going to acknowledge her “cool” hair otherwise?

Alien is still smiling at me, her eyes getting wider. Oh, I think. She’s waiting for a response from me. I make the corners of my mouth sort of pull away from each other in a low energy smile-grimace, quietly say, “Thank you,” and look down.
After a pause, she leaves. I wonder if I was too unfriendly, then I realize I don’t care. I don’t want her as a friend. My friends know better than to bring that kind of bullshit into my life so early in the day.

A Memory

The first time I can remember an adult man making me uncomfortable, I think I was about 6 years old. If I’d met him at my age today, I wouldn’t call him a man, I don’t think. He was probably only in his late teens, early twenties at most. This is what my twenty-two year old mind rationalizes. But to little me, he was a freaking man, and that impression clouds my memory.

He was also an art teacher at my summer camp. I think his name was David.

When I was younger, I would go to summer camp at the local elementary school. A lot of my friends did too, as well as students from the four other elementary schools in the district. The other girls in my camp group weren’t people I knew, although most of them knew each other, so there were a lot of times in the beginning of camp when we were supposed to be quiet in an activity and they’d all be talking. I mention this to highlight that while they got attention for talking to the friends they already had, I would stick out as a quiet girl. This was years before I became a quiet person. I was actually quite boisterous and loud as a child and I made friends pretty easily, but I also didn’t stress about it. So for the first few days of camp, I was very content keeping to myself in our group’s classroom activities, then ramping up the energy when I was back with my friends in the gym. My gym antics won me a lot of new friends. My classroom silences won over my teachers, sometimes a little too much.

David liked me because he though I was so polite, and also pretty. He said this, not just to me, but to the rest of my group, and really anyone around whenever we happened to bump into each other. The bumping into each other happened a lot more than you’d expect. I didn’t just see him in class. He was on the playground. He was in the hallways. I saw David more than I saw any other teachers or counselors, and each time I ran into him, he’d praise me. He got into the habit of just picking me up and putting me high into the air. He made a song about me, and he’d dance around like a lunatic singing it. When I saw him in the hallways, he wouldn’t let me go by without hugging him first.

I hated all of it.

At first, it was okay. It even helped me befriend the other girls in the group, but barely. The thing was, promises on promises, I was the only kid in camp who was being sung to. It made me stand out. I was always the first kid who “got” to be lifted into the air; it made me cool that I didn’t even try for it.

But I didn’t like standing out in this way. I didn’t feel that I merited preferential treatment. I found it strange, the way David held me when he lifted me up, with his hand spread so that his palm held my stomach while his fingers could press into my chest. When I was walking in the hallway, I just wanted to be able to walk without being stopped and pressed into a man’s body. Being serenaded made me boil over with embarrassment from the first day, but no one seemed to notice or care. If anything, my embarrassment made them all laugh, and David played off of that and hammed it up even harder.

The only thing I appreciated was that he appreciated how polite I was. My mom had stressed politeness pretty hard to me, and I knew it would make her proud that an adult had taken notice of my good behavior. So throughout the entire summer of camp, I was incredibly polite to David. I endured everything with a smile, and if I felt particularly tired or uncomfortable on a certain day, I would simply run and hide in the bathroom until he was no longer around. That’s how I got through the summer.

The next summer, I went back to camp and David was still there. I didn’t want to go through another summer of alternating hiding and endurance, so I decided to change my politeness tactics. That first day, we were coming inside from recess and David was in the doorway, waiting for me. He growled out my name, then began to bend down to scoop me into a hug.

“Hi David,” I said to him, extending my right hand for him to shake (in place of the hug). “Would you mind not singing to me this summer, please?”

In the car ride home, I told my mom about how David had been making me uncomfortable for so long, but how I had finally asked him to stop. I knew that she would be proud of me for sticking up for myself while using the tools she had taught me.

She was disappointed in me.

“Khalilah,” she said, stretching the middle syllable of my name ever so slightly, “That’s so sad. You must have made poor David feel bad. Just because you’re feeling sensitive, you still need to make sure you aren’t hurting someone. What if he doesn’t sing to any kids anymore?” Good, I thought.

But that’s the thing about childhood, and having behaviors ingrained into your system. I knew how creepy and strange about myself David made me feel, but my mom also made me feel incredibly guilty for trying to get the source of those feelings to stop. I’m sure she didn’t understand the extent to which David’s behavior with me was Not Okay. I’m not even sure if I’ve done a good enough job of outlining it to the readers here. I don’t remember everything that happened fifteen years ago, only a couple years after my memory had fully developed to begin with. All I remember now are snapshots of running into him, and the feelings of shame, discomfort, and mild fear this man brought to me. And then I also remember that for the rest of the car ride, my mother impressed upon me the importance of thinking of others, and not just our own feelings. That the feelings of others are vastly more important than our own, even if we don’t particularly like the others in question, even if they make us feel slightly unsafe or upset. By the end of the car ride, I felt like a piece of shit for speaking up for myself. Not that I had the vocabulary to explain that.

It turns out it didn’t even matter. The next day when I saw David, he made me hug him. And then he picked me up and sang to me, and didn’t put me down until the end of his song. I decided that if he couldn’t even listen to my polite request, I didn’t need to waste my time enduring him anymore. Thanks to my mother, I knew better than to stick up for myself any further, so I opted to spend the rest of the summer hiding in the bathroom whenever I thought he was around.

Asexuality and Queerness/Not Yet

Pulse and Pride and Social Justice culture got me questioning my queerness.

The beauty of my asexuality is that it leaves me equally attracted to men and women. The ugliness of it is I’m left disappointing even more people.

Heyy pretty lady 🙂

Unanswered messages from women I right-swiped before being hit with fear.

Pride was Sunday. My friend wanted to go, and I did, too. I packed gray lipstick when I went into the city, and then couldn’t put it on. I didn’t want people to think I was using pride as an excuse to look weird, wild. Blue hair, rainbow shorts, gray lipstick, what are you doing in this place you don’t even feel completely welcome? It would have been my own individual pride. Taking the opportunity to lean into myself and try to feel safe. My flag isn’t rainbow. It’s gray. And purple, white, and black.

There’s some documentary about asexuality on Netflix that people (straight and queer alike) love to tell me they’ve seen. They all seem to have appreciated and learned a lot from it. I hated that documentary. Found it thoroughly depressing. The icing on the cake was when a group of asexuals went to Pride to show their presence and pass out little pamphlets about asexuality…and the majority of the gays and lesbians there either laughed at or derided them. One guy even said, “I don’t agree with your way of life,” and then continued to cheer for the rainbow parade.

So, there’s that. There’s a reason I have trouble talking to women I find attractive. We can match on Tinder, we can wine at queer dance halls, but when it gets to the point of moving past that, I freeze. I don’t want to disappoint women, give them lady blue balls. It’s ‘easier’ to do that to guys, because to a certain extent that’s already written into our patriarchal culture. With women, I’m afraid of hurting their feelings by slipping into the role of the “straight lesbian” who’s fine kissing but uninterested in anything else. I don’t know how to move past that block. And it sort of feels like I should, a lot of the time, if I want to be taken seriously under the queer umbrella. How can I claim queerness and more easily be with men? How does that work?

“The thing is, I could have been somewhere like Pulse,” I’m saying to my friend. “I mean, we’ve been places like that before. And they do feel safer. Not even in the sense of the outside world judging, but because the people I interact with there actually care about consent. And what if I just wanted to go somewhere and dance and feel safe and not get handled, and then I ended up shot and got on the news and was dead? What would my family, who does not acknowledge asexuality, think?”

“They’d think you were gay,” she says simply. Easy.

That agitates me, and at first I can’t tell if it’s not because of the strong Congolese sentiment against gayness, and the desire to still be accepted by the most distant relatives. Maybe that’s a part of it, but I think a bigger part is knowing that it just isn’t. Easy.

Yes, I could pass as straight for the rest of my life, and there’s a privilege to that. I guess really anyone could. Pass. It would just be easier for me to do so. But that puts me at increased risk for damage to my person. Real, real risk. Like

Clockwork.

The message comes in from my friend.

He’s in NYC. There was an apartment I’d been looking to move into, subletting from an alum. Her roommate brought him into the city. The man whose name I shouldn’t legally say now, since he threatened to sue me for defamation of character. Apparently, it’s wrong for me to name my rapist to the public. Not that any of that matters, because he’s here. He’s here, and lions have turned into kittens, and my mind is beyond spidering and I want to

actually, never see another man. They’re scary, in the deepest sense of that simple adjective.

Also, a bit, I don’t want to see another person. I can’t go outside for it. I want to cocoon myself in blankets and stay in my bed where loved ones can come visit me and tell me stories and bring me tea, but please don’t expect me to go outside again, or into the city, where he can just pop up on me.

The thing is that the break and spaces just now, between saying what I want and actually putting something in that looks like it could finish that thought, is the amount of time it takes me to unthaw and keep moving and unpack everything, and by the time that happens I’m on the C train going towards Pride. Realizations and asexual situations and the energy it takes to do all that have me tired. Of course. So instead of going to Pride, I just stay on the train until I’m in Times Square, and then I shuttle over to Metro North and ride that train home. The whole time, I berate myself for being a bad queer, and chastise myself for wearing short shorts when there are regular men all over the place. Pride would have made what I wore safe. Pride would have drained my mental energy.

I’m not really sure what I feel now, going home. My mind is a soup of questionable ingredients. Guilt-confusion-fear-uncertainty-acceptan-pri-shame-alertness-fog are the only things that briefly bob to the surface. Mostly I feel tired. A man sits next to me and I turn the pages of my book into a cocoon until I can fall asleep.